Filtering the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager

   By Ben Colley on November 9, 2022

Using the Filter in SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager

One of the beauties of SOLIDWORKS is its simple, streamlined interface; you’re not inundated by a flurry of buttons, toolbars, and tabs to slow down your everyday modeling. However, the interface can be deceptive in its simplicity, as it conceals a vast set of tools and capabilities that you may not be aware of at first glance… or second or third glance. Such is the case with the Filter bar that lives at the top of the FeatureManager design tree, which alluded my notice for about nine years of SOLIDWORKS use.

  • At the top-left of the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager (the tree of features, components, mates, etc. on the left side of the interface) you will notice a funnel-shaped filter icon, followed by an empty space that spans the width of the design tree.

featuremanager tree

This filter, available in parts, assemblies, and drawings, acts as a search bar that allows you to narrow down what is displayed in the FeatureManager and model graphics area. Anything that could be found in the FeatureManager may be searched, such as:

  • Components
  • Subassemblies
  • Features
  • Reference Geometry
  • Mates
  • Materials
  • Custom Properties, such as Descriptions, Vendors, etc.

Filtering Parts

At the part level, searching a term will temporarily hide everything from the FeatureManager except for items pertaining to the term searched. For instance, typing “fillet” may show all fillet features, and any named item that contains the word “fillet”, such as a subfolder or named sketch.

solidworks wheel design

In a SOLIDWORKS part, the filter bar can be used to search for:

  • Planes
  • Sketches
  • Features
  • Folders
  • Equations
  • Annotations
  • Sensors
  • User-Defined Tags

This capability can be especially helpful for complex parts with long histories, named sketches/planes, or features that have been grouped out of sight into subfolders.

Filtering Assemblies

At the assembly level, by default, searching for a component will cause all other components in the design tree and in the graphics area to be hidden from view. Deleting the search text will restore visibility.

SOLIDWORKS Filtering assemblies

In an assembly, you will notice a dropdown arrow next to the filter icon that gives you some additional options for assembly filtering.

These options are:

  • Filter Graphics View
  • Filter Hidden/Suppressed Components
  • Look in Custom Properties

filter view options

Filter Graphics View

Though hiding the filtered-out components from the graphics area is the default setting, it is optional; you do have the ability to filter out the results of the Feature Manager only. Uncheck “Filter Graphics View” if you wish to keep visibility of the full assembly in the graphics area while filtering the design tree.

solidworks blender image

Filter Hidden/Suppressed Components

By default, suppressed and hidden components remain visible in the FeatureManager for easy access, should they need to be unsuppressed or shown later. If you wish to make suppressed and hidden components invisible in the FeatureManager, check “Filter Hidden/Suppressed Components”. No search verbiage is necessary; only an uncheck of the option is needed.

solidworks blender drawing with filter

Look in Custom Properties

The option to “Look in Custom Properties” is one of the most useful features of the filter bar, as it gives you access to component metadata that may not otherwise be visible in the tree. By default, this option is checked on, but it may be disabled if desired. A very practical application for this filter option is searching for components by description instead of part name. If your company practice is to use an item number when saving SOLIDWORKS parts, then it may be difficult to navigate the assembly tree if only item numbers are visible. If descriptions are included in the custom properties of the files, then using descriptive verbiage in the filter bar may help you find which component you’re looking for.

solidworks filtermanager custom properties


Another search capability unique to assemblies is the ability to filter by mates. Typing a mate name in the filter bar will give visibility in the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager and graphics area only to components affected by the specified mate type and will hide all non-relevant mates from the Mates folder.

solidworks image using mate filter


Because the full modeling history of components is visible in an assembly when the components are expanded in the FeatureManager, all the search items available at the part-level may also be filtered at the assembly level. One case where this may be useful is in searching for components by material.

materials filter in solidworks

A similar search could be conducted using Assembly Visualization, though not with the same effect of hiding components not having the material of interest.

Filtering Drawings

The filter bar in the Drawings environment has similar searchability to assemblies, with the added possibilities of tables and sheets, but without the ability to “Filter out” items from the graphics area.

One interesting distinction built into the filtering search is a functional difference between the terms “Bill of Materials” and “BOM”. If the term, “Bill of Materials” is used, then a typical search will be conducted for matching entries in the drawing tree, and any created Bill of Materials tables will be displayed. If the term, “BOM” is used however, then the assembly within the drawing view entry will be shown expanded, with a compact listing of all the constituent components.

filtering bar drawings in solidworks

The same functionality holds true in assemblies. Searching “BOM” in the assembly filter bar will simplify the assembly FeatureManager to show only a compact listing of the component makeup of assemblies and subassemblies.

assembly search features in solidworks

Filtering the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager – Conclusion

In conclusion for the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager filter search bar never be surprised to discover that SOLIDWORKS R&D has hidden something extremely useful in plain sight. Always be ready to learn something new that’s permanently going to change your workflow for the better. Of course, you can search for that named sketch or that tiny component buried deep within a subassembly! It wouldn’t be SOLIDWORKS if you couldn’t do that. Or at least that’s what I think now that I’m used to the idea of being able to do that.

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Ben Colley

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